This portrait of Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and author of Gulliver’s Travels, was painted by Charles Jervas in around 1718 when Swift was about 41 years old.

Swift is shown seated at his writing table, wearing his clerical robes and collar. He holds a leaf of paper and a quill in his hands. Although Swift’s clothing signifies his religious calling, the writing materials and books behind him – works by Aesop, Horace and Lucian – emphasise his other vocation as a man of letters, and provide literary precedence for his works of didactic social and political satire.